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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Youngsters Beck and Symington score as Carlisle Utd stage cup fightback

Carlisle United 2 Ipswich Town 1 (aet): This was the future not so much tapping politely on the door as smashing it through. The kids are in the house and they will now take some removing.

Carlisle Utd photo
David Symington, left and Mark Beck

“I’ve not stopped sweating yet. Let me have a pint first.” This was Greg Abbott’s reply to a suggestion that he should have started considering new contracts for his teenage matchwinners the moment they finished their night’s work.

Eventually Carlisle’s manager drew breath and conceded the point.

“Progress gets rewarded,” he said. In the short-term we will have to get by with different pieces of paper where Dave Symington, Mark Beck and Brad Potts are concerned: their birth certificates.

The records say Carlisle’s two goalscoring subs last night, and a third kid who excelled in defence for 120 minutes, all entered the world in 1994, a fact which makes many of us feel old and at the same time blows a hearty gust of fresh air straight through Brunton Park.

Football offers few more enjoyable experiences than the sight of a new career launching itself. The joy was trebled for United’s supporters here, or it will have been if Potts, Beck and Symington can take themselves above and beyond what they achieved together under the floodlights.

In the space of a couple of hours, one story of youthful achievement overlapped another and then another. The first draft was about how confident Potts was looking down United’s right side, even as the Blues trailed Ipswich from the 24th minute.

That version was rewritten to give Beck higher billing, after the substitute striker scored a commanding header – his first senior goal – to push the tie into extra-time.

Wherever things went after that, at least we had a memorable yarn on our hands. Then up stepped Symington, a Workington boy who burst into tears when Abbott told him he had earned a professional deal with the Blues in May. One rifle-crack of a shot later and a Championship team were on their behinds.

“A couple of weeks ago I scuffed a shot from exactly the same place,” said Symington, the oldest of the three youth team graduates by a handful of days and Carlisle’s catalyst. “I thought, I’m not doing that again’. So I picked my spot and put it there.”

He did so with enough force that Scott Loach, Ipswich’s goalkeeper and once an England squad member, could only swipe at its vapour trail. To conquer opponents like that, and with such certainty, suggests that something serious was afoot at United’s ground.

When Symington was running hungrily at Ipswich’s defenders during Carlisle’s fightback you had to check that this was a tyro of just three senior appearances, and no starts. United’s newest matchwinner started the day with a late-morning viewing of the Jeremy Kyle show and ended it writing his own outrageous headlines.

The lie-detector test, a Kyle favourite, is a handy term for first-team football. Any League One arena can be a bluffer’s graveyard if potential and promise is not followed through. The happy fact is that United are in the third round of the Capital One Cup precisely because of what these young men did (and because Abbott believed they could do it).

What they did, essentially, was take their energy and skill back at Ipswich after a rather loose start from the Cumbrians. With only 3,296 fans in the ground, this cup tie started quietly and proceeded without great fanfare as Paul Jewell’s players established early control.

With Lee Martin dropping off the front line, the 19-year-old Spurs loanee Massimo Luongo working the ball effectively around midfield and the athletic Jay Emmanuel-Thomas prowling the right side, Championship superiority was soon set. Peter Murphy set off on his bid to silence Ipswich’s gun striker, the former top-flight finisher Michael Chopra, with confidence but as Carlisle struggled to find rhythm, Ipswich took command, carving a chance which Josh Carson should have buried (Adam Collin’s legs rescued United) and finally scoring, through Luongo’s clipped finish following Emmanuel-Thomas’ run.

United were not setting a high enough price on their own possession and struggling to offer regular support to Danny Cadamarteri as the lone line-leader. The veteran did put a header close from a Matty Robson cross but soon Carlisle were grateful for Collin again after Chopra had eluded Murphy.

When, before half-time, Robson was flagged offside from a Liam Noble pass, Abbott turned and spat out an oath. It turns out the Blues boss was growing frustrated by his team’s unwillingness to “get in Ipswich’s faces”, as he explained later. It was also the case that United needed some extra presence in attacking areas for the times when Robson and JP McGovern put in their deliveries from wide.

A missed opportunity at the near post from Chopra in the 55th minute hinted that Ipswich would eventually have enough pressure to kill the game but there came a point midway through the second half when United summoned some new strength and managed steadily to push their visitors back. One cross from the improving Potts hammered into Cadamarteri’s face, which was not in the blueprint, but the surge at least confirmed that United (now with Paddy Madden added to the forward line, replacing the booked James Berrett) were keener to attack than they had been before.

On 65 minutes, two more subs. For Ipswich, the experienced Jason Scotland arrived. For United, Symington slapped palms with McGovern and set about overshadowing Scotland (the player, not the country, though give him time). Within minutes Symington was right into the action, linking nicely with Potts, who intelligently located Robson for a shot that tested Loach.

Beck then trotted on for Cadamarteri and the effect was not to weaken Carlisle with extra inexperience, but the opposite. The rumble simply continued with a Robson lay-off which Chris Chantler cracked against an Ipswich head. From the next attack, Beck put a volley a fraction wide.

When Madden failed to convert an expert Symington cross in the 90th minute, it seemed we would have to accept valiant failure, after all. But then youth finally had its say, as Robson crossed from the left and Beck rose to send his header crashing across Loach and in.

This was justified reward for the endeavours not just of the teens but of the older coves in Abbott’s line-up, like Paul Thirlwell, battling endlessly in the middle, and Mike Edwards, attacking everything in defence in place of the injured Danny Livesey. Robson, meanwhile, was flushed with enthusiasm, sprinting halfway up the Story Homes Stand to retrieve a ball as United pursued an unlikely winner.

It didn’t come, not inside the regulation minutes but then it did in extra-time. The moment Symington will treasure for all his days began when the winger pounced on Aaron Cresswell’s mistake in the 100th minute and slipped the ball to Beck, whose return pass to his former youth team-mate was perfectly weighted.

The finish was low and hard. Abbott spun and reprised his fist-pump from last March’s Huddersfield melodrama. Symington was grabbed by Beck and then swarmed over by his colleagues. Back at base, Noble took the ball off Chopra’s toe and Tommy Smith missed a header as Ipswich threatened, fleetingly, to spoil the new sense of fun.

Yet the final 15 minutes were just as notable for United’s and Symington’s endless appetite for more, as the winger warmed Loach’s mitts from 25 yards and was then strangely penalised for shielding the ball in the corner as time ticked by. In these little cameos you saw why Abbott has been struggling against his temptation to play Symington from the start recently; a temptation that may defeat him soon.

When time was called, the three youngest were the last to leave, earning hugs from Graham Kavanagh and handshakes from Tony Caig (who knows a thing or two about rising through the ranks). Then they appeared in the media room, where they talked maturely about their night of stardom, until the cameras and tape recorders stopped and they could be boys again.

Then Symington turned to Beck, smiling impishly and a little disbelievingly. Under his breath, he said: “Hey – we just won that game!”

ADAM COLLIN - Two vital saves prevented United from going under when Ipswich had their strongest spells. Was unsighted when Luongo scored his clever goal but the keeper stood strong when Carlisle needed him.

BRAD POTTS - After an uncertain start, the recalled teenager grew more confident as the game went on and by the end looked like he belonged. Showed his attacking potential and was full of brightness and composure on the ball.

CHRIS CHANTLER - Passing radar was faulty in opening stages as he came under pressure from Emmanuel-Thomas. But his game got sharper as Carlisle found their feet and his second-half display showed plenty of quality and urgency.

MIKE EDWARDS - Back in for the injured Livesey, the summer signing was sometimes too hasty with the ball early on, but he certainly earned his spurs with some responsible, solid work in the second half and in extra-time as Ipswich came forward.

PETER MURPHY - Given the slip once by Chopra, otherwise stuck keenly to his task and produced several classy moments to get the Blues out of trouble and onto the front foot again. United were often grateful for his calm head.

PAUL THIRLWELL - Will be nowhere near the headlines today but Thirlwell’s positional discipline and aggression were important features of the comeback. Passing was sound and battled away to keep Town midfield in check.

JAMES BERRETT - After a quiet opening, he started to put himself about to better effect and made a couple of promising forward surges. But yellow card had him walking a tightrope and Abbott subbed him before he received another one.

LIAM NOBLE - When the Blues were struggling to keep pace with Ipswich, Noble’s hunger and competitive spirit was one of few highlights. Later, as others enjoyed the glory, he continued to put in the yards both in defence and attack.

MATTY ROBSON - Was always eager to run at Ipswich’s right-backs and got some joy with the cross that Beck converted. In the second half especially he was a regular menace to Jewell’s back line.

JP MCGOVERN - Was often forced to come infield in search of the ball and he tried to find openings. Did not let the side down with his endeavours but United got the impetus they needed when Symington came on.

DANNY CADAMARTERI - Did all he could to pose Ipswich some problems while he was leading a sometimes isolated line. Some of his hold-up work and footwork was impressive, though Beck’s arrival gave the Blues something extra.

Subs: Paddy Madden (for Berrett 55) – Bright work but missed chances; Dave Symington (for McGovern 65) – Superb contribution; Mark Beck (for Cadamarteri 78) – First-rate finish. Not used: Mark Gillespie, Frank Simek, Andy Welsh, Alessio Bugno.

Goals: Beck 90, Symington 100

Booked: Berrett

Ipswich Town: Loach, Edwards (Ainsley 16), Cresswell, Chambers, Smith, Luongo, Drury, Carson (Scotland 65), Emmanuel-Thomas (Stevenson 77), Martin, Chopra. Not used: Delaney, Lee-Barrett, Murray, Lawrence.

Goal: Luongo 24

Ref: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)

Crowd: 3,296 (390 Ipswich fans)

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